How to Get a Handle on Facebook's Privacy Settings

Filed under: Tween Culture, Teen Culture, Apps

Facebook's Privacy Settings

Kids today are growing up in public – and this is especially true when it comes to Facebook. Credit: Getty

Only You Can Control Your Online Privacy
  • Kids are growing up in public -- and this is especially true when it comes to Facebook.
  • Everything they say or do adds up and affects their reputations.
  • You can help your kids protect their privacy by making sure they use their privacy settings.
  • Every time Facebook introduces new privacy controls, you'll need to update your settings.

What parents need to know

Kids today are growing up in public – and this is especially true when it comes to Facebook. Countless details of their lives appear in pictures, conversations, and random thoughts. The issue here is simple: What they say or do on Facebook adds up and affects their reputations.

The simplest and most effective way to help your kids protect their reputations and privacy is to make sure they use their privacy settings. Our video shows you how to set the key Facebook privacy controls and what each setting means.

All about the settings

First, log into Facebook and click on the "Account" tab. Next click on "Privacy Settings." In each area, you can control what information is public and what information is private. Your kids need to set controls in three areas: Connecting on Facebook, Sharing on Facebook, and Apps and Websites.

Connecting on Facebook

Here's where you can control who can contact you -- and how -- as well as who can see certain information. Click on "View Settings" and then click into each section to select the level of desired privacy. We recommend selecting "Friends Only" for the settings on this page.

Pay close attention to the section that says Search for you on Facebook. Do you want anyone on Facebook to be able to search for your kids? We recommend no.

Sharing on Facebook

These settings allow you and your kids to see at a glance what information you're sharing -- and with whom. For most teens, the "Friends Only setting" is a relatively safe bet. But you can also fine tune these settings by clicking on "customize settings." If you choose this option, you can limit your circle to Friends Only, or to specific people – you can also block certain people. Your child can even make certain things visible only to himself.

Be sure not to check the box for "People Here Now" after I check in." CSM recommends that teens avoid location services.

Further down the page is another key setting, "Edit album privacy." Here, you'll be able to set which groups of people can see your photos -- we recommend "Friends Only" or customizing to name specific people to include or exclude. And "Friends Only" goes for the rest of the sections on the customize settings page.

Apps and Websites

Located on the Privacy settings main page, this section pertains to what information can be shared about you by app companies, other websites, and even by your friends. The most important privacy control here is: "Info accessible through your friends." This is the only way your kids will be able to have a say about what information leaves their control and goes out through their friends. Once a friend shares something with THEIR friends – well – it travels far and wide and your kids can't take whatever it was back. Best to leave these unchecked.

The very last setting on the Apps, Games, and Websites page is a key one: Public search. Facebook prevents users registered as teens to be searchable on a search engine. But if your teen has used a different birthdate, they could be searchable. Bottom line, don't enable public search for teens.

What do your kids need to know?

Facebook regularly changes it feature sets. So you will have to stay on top of things and pay attention when they send you notices. But taking the time to make sure your kids have set their privacy settings means your kids will have more control over their reputations and privacy, and you will have more peace of mind.


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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.